Italian legend and four other midfielders Liverpool could buy this January

Steven Gerrard's hamstring injury has ruled him out for at least a month, leaving Brendan Rodgers desperately short of cover in midfield.

Liverpool have overcome the odds to sit second in the Premier League table after 15 games of the current campaign.

But the course of their season was always going to be determined by the depth of their squad.

The news that Steven Gerrard may be out for at least a month thus hinders their cause greatly, while Jordan Henderson's absence is another worrying blow.

Joe Allen and Lucas will have to do for now but, in January, Brendan Rodgers will surely have to strengthen in midfield.

Here are five options he should consider:

1. Julian Draxler

Chelsea and Arsenal have been linked with Schalke 04 wonderkid Julian Draxler but if Liverpool could steal the attacking midfielder from their clutches, it would represent a massive coup for the club.

Draxler has dazzled both at home in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League this term and, clearly, the German holds a big future in the European game.

A lack of Champions League football at Anfield may deter Draxler for now, while a €45million release clause in his contract may deter the Reds themselves.

But, at 20-years-old, Draxler would represent an investment for the future, while beating other top clubs to a big signing is something Liverpool will have to get in the habit of doing if they want to return to Europe's top table.

2. Andrea Pirlo

The ins and outs of Andrea Pirlo moving to the Premier League are difficult to determine. Would the Italian be interested in a move to England and will Juventus extend his contract anyway?

If Liverpool move fast enough, they could persuade the 34-year-old to move to Anfield before he is offered any potential new deal.

And in the twilight of his years, Pirlo could no doubt be persuaded to try one last challenge.

With his contract set to expire in the summer - and his age being well above 30 - Pirlo could provide a world-class yet cheap option for Rodgers, though the Reds would have to negotiate well to land the Italian maestro.

3. Yohan Cabaye

Again, Liverpool would have to fight off interest from other clubs to bring Yohan Cabaye to Anfield but that is something they will have to come to terms with if they want to sign top players.

The France midfielder has shone for Newcastle this season - as well as in previous years - and has attracted interest from Manchester United and Arsenal.

In Gerrard's absence, Cabaye would be the perfect midfield replacement as both a playmaker and a goalscorer. At 27, meanwhile, the Frenchman clearly has several years at the top in him.

4. Lassana Diarra

Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Lassana Diarra is being linked with a move back to the Premier League this winter.

The likes of Arsenal and Chelsea have been touted - but why would the Frenchman return to clubs he has already been at?

The only appeal may be higher wages but that should not put Liverpool off entering the market for the experienced 28-year-old.

Having played in England for many years before, Diarra would not need much time to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League and could provide the perfect defensive midfield option for Rodgers' side.

5. Mohamed Diame

Perhaps the cheapest option available to Liverpool at central midfield, however, is Mohamed Diame. The Senegal international is believed to have a release clause of £3.5 million in his contract and that could provide perfect value for short-term cover.

At 26, though, Diame could stay at Liverpool for the long term if he fits into Rodgers' side.

Currently, the Reds rely on Lucas as their main defensive midfielder. But Diame would provide perfect cover for the Brazilian and bolster numbers in midfield generally.

With West Ham struggling at the foot of the Premier League table, meanwhile, Diame would hardly need persuading if a top-four candidate came calling. 

image: © Ben Sutherland

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